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Breast cancer survivors wanted to paddle with Chilliwack dragon boat team

People can learn more at Spirit Abreast’s upcoming meet-and-greet at Bob Chan-Kent Family YMCA
The Spirit Abreast dragon boat team from Chilliwack, seen here at a regatta in Penticton in 2023, is having a recruiting event on April 9, 2024. (David Arthurs)

A Chilliwack dragon boat team, made up of breast cancer survivors, is looking for new paddlers to join them for the 2024 season.

Spirit Abreast is holding a meet-and-greet on April 9 at the YMCA in Chilliwack.

Paddler Heather Dyck joined the team just months after finishing chemotherapy and radiation, and said she felt like she belonged right from the beginning.

“The exercise combined with camaraderie was instrumental in my recovery. I had never before looked forward to working out as I do with this group of paddlers,” Dyck said. “The moment that you get out on the lake with this lovely group of ladies, it feels truly magical.”

But it’s not just the sisterhood that’s a benefit with this dragon boating team. The sport also helps breast cancer survivors avoid one of the most difficult complications of breast cancer: lymphedema, the painful swelling that can occur after the surgical removal of lymph nodes, according to an article on

The Spirit Abreast dragon boat team from Chilliwack, seen here in boat #1 at a regatta in Richmond in 2023, is having a recruiting event on April 9, 2024. (David Arthurs)

Additionally, paddling improves cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and muscular endurance. This increased stamina and strength transfers to daily life, allowing paddlers to do more with their bodies, which contributes to enhanced self-confidence, said coach Sherry Hunt.

It also increases mobility, body awareness, coordination and balance. Chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease can be held at bay with dragon boating, and it can prevent cancer, she added.

“Plus, exercise offers natural endorphins that, along with great teammates and a beautiful natural setting, makes dragon boating at Cultus Lake a fantastic mood enhancer,” Hunt said. “The best part? It’s fun. So, paddlers come to practices consistently — from a fitness standpoint, that means they get better results.”

Member Ingrid Bates said dragon boating is a full-body workout and that she feels “energized” just thinking about her team both on and off the water.

“I absolutely love the way we work together to move the boat through the water, with every stroke I feel stronger,” Bates said. “Plus the friendships you build working as a team with paddlers who have a similar story, pushes me to be there, to show up.”

The Spirit Abreast dragon boat team’s meet-and-greet is at the Bob Chan-Kent Family YMCA (45844 Hocking Ave.) in Chilliwack on Tuesday, April 9 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The team, which practises at Cultus Lake, does recruit supporters, but its focus is on breast cancer survivors.

For more info, call Heather at 604-819-0747 or Debbie at 778-847-8199.

READ MORE: ‘The best therapy’: Breast cancer survivors invite others to join Chilliwack-based dragon boat team

Looking for more events taking place in and around Chilliwack? Check out What’s happening Chilliwack in our community section.

Jenna Hauck

About the Author: Jenna Hauck

I started my career at The Chilliwack Progress in 2000 as a photojournalist.
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